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Would Tattoos Help Police Public Relations?
Body art in the UK is growing in popularity just as much as it is in the United States. And much like American law enforcement, which has started drawing finer and finer lines to discern what is and is not acceptable body art for officers on duty, so have some British police departments.
But with the issuance of guidelines to police officers in Kent, a different point of view has been raised. The Police Federation, which is the body which represents officers, has issued their own statement calling attention to the fact that having tattoos might help build a connection between officers and young citizens. They feel the new rulings are the result of a "generational gap" that exists in how tattoos and tattoo culture are perceived.
What the debate has come down to is, one side is worried that tattoos might be offensive or appear unprofessional while the opposing argument is that the younger generation doesn't have such attitudes and might feel more comfortable if they were interacting with an officer who was tattooed. The guidelines state that an officer should look "professional, smart and approachable" while on duty, but couldn't it be argued that what constitutes a such an appearance is subjective? After all, police already adhere to a uniform dress code. Doesn't that take care of the professional appearance? "Smart" seems to be poorly defined. Does it mean they need to look intelligent? Or does it mean they need to have their uniforms pressed and wrinkle-free? Tattooing is no indication of intelligence, nor does it confirm a lack thereof, so that point seems wasted. As far as approachable, if you are really in trouble or need assistance, doesn't it make sense to go to a police officer? Do the tattoos really enter into it? After all, would you not go to a police officer if he had a mustache? Or would you somehow be put off depending on if the officer was blonde, brunette or a redhead?
Slowly but surely, the attitude towards tattooing is turning, and it seems very likely that in the next decade or two, such conflicts are going to completely evaporate. By that point, the twenty and thirty-somethings who are very inked will have become the forty and fifty-year-old corporate presidents and directors. And they aren't going to be bothered by a little color sticking out of the cuff of someone's shirt sleeve.
Content copyright © 2013 by Rae Schwarz. All rights reserved.
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